For the second straight outing, Drew Pomeranz looked like a new man. He was efficient, able to miss bats on a regular basis and had all three of his pitches working. It’s that last part that seems to be key. Early in the year, he was relying solely on his fastball and curveball, but lately has worked his cutter back into the mix. When he can throw that with confidence — particularly to the arm-side of the plate — he’s tough to face.
The White Sox saw that first hand on Wednesday. It was clear from the start that Pomeranz had it going on, as he induced two strikeouts and a weak comebacker to get out of that inning 1-2-3.
The second was a little shakier, although his defense didn’t do him any favors. Pomeranz would allow a single to Avisail Garcia with one out, and when Garcia attempted to steal second Christian Vazquez made a bad throw that made it into center field, allowing the runner to reach third. As it turned out, the extra base wouldn’t really matter as Tim Anderson followed that up with a hard-hit double to knock in the run and give Chicago a 1-0 lead. As it turned out, that was easily the best contact Chicago would make off the Boston southpaw all night.
That was all the White Sox would get in the third, and that’s all they’d get for the rest of his outing as well. He did get in some trouble in just about every inning, but A) his defense contributed to it and B) he showed big stuff in big spots to get out of the jams.
In the third, Pomeranz allowed a one-out single to Leury Garcia, who ended up at third base on a stolen base and passed ball. He’d get two quick outs after the runner got to third to escape the inning unscathed. In the fourth, he’d allow back-to-back singles before inducing an inning-ending flyout. In the fifth, the leadoff man reached second on a two-base error by Deven Marrero, but Pomeranz didn’t let them get any further. Finally, in the sixth, the lefty allowed two straight singles to start the inning but settled down and got three straight outs after that to keep Chicago to just one run.
None of these jams were particularly terrifying, but there was a chance to score in just about every inning. Obviously, that’s not usually a great thing for pitchers, but as I said it was largely due to singles and his defense. It’s hard to fault Pomeranz for much in this outing. He ended up allowing just the one run in his seven innings of work with eight strikeouts (four on curveballs, three on fastballs and one on the cutter by my unofficial count) while not allowing a walk. The White Sox lineup isn’t the biggest test in the world, but given what Pomeranz has looked like in his last two outings it’s looking like the Red Sox just got a big boost from the back of their rotation.
On the other side of things, it started as an extremely frustrating day. Facing off against Mike Pelfrey, it seemed like it should have been a banner day for the Red Sox lineup. The White Sox starter doesn’t strike many batters out and gives up plenty of hard contact. Seems like a recipe for success, right?
Nah. Pelfrey tossed five innings for Chicago and the Red Sox didn’t put up too much of a fight. They got a couple runners on in the third and a couple more in the fourth, but that was all they could do. To be fair to Pelfrey, he looked pretty impressive, but it was mostly a disappointing start to the day for the Red Sox.
Then, in the sixth, the White Sox called upon their bullpen and brought in Anthony Swarzak. Boston finally caught a few breaks and put a rally together. Trailing 1-0 at this point, things started with a soft single off the end of Xander Bogaerts’ bat followed by a bloop single from Mitch Moreland. The latter would move to second on a bad throw attempting to catch the former at third base. With two runners in scoring position, Chicago intentionally walked Jackie Bradley to give Josh Rutledge the bases loaded with one out. The infielder hit what looked like an inning-ending double play ball, but Anderson couldn’t get a grip on the ball right away at shortstop, and that was enough time for Rutledge to beat the throw at first and keep the inning alive while also knocking in a run. With the game now tied, Pablo Sandoval blooped an RBI single — his second hit of the day — and the Red Sox had a lead. They’d tack on two more on a Christian Vazquez double and that was that. The Red Sox had their four-run inning on a series of bloop singles and that was all they needed.
That brought on Matt Barnes and Craig Kimbrel to shut the door in the final two innings, which they did without issue.
The offense did enough to get the win, but this win was all about Pomeranz. It’s only two outings, but the lefty is finally starting to look like the guy Boston traded for last summer. If he can consistently be something close to this, the American League is going to have fits with this rotation.